The Infantilism of American Discourse

This blog has a fairly active Facebook page, although I would like it to be more active, folks, so have at it. Because of this, my personal Facebook page is largely devoid of politics. Once in a while, I’ll throw something up there, but not often. Of course, there are times when I see something that is worth sharing on the PCTC Blog Facebook page, but I forget to click on a button or two and it ends up on my page by accident.

socratesA few weeks ago. I saw now-defunct presidential also-ran Lindsey Graham’s comments about Donald Trump and I shared it and made a few comments about it, noting that I would really like to appreciate what little Lindsey was saying about how Trump was ruining his Party, but the fact of the matter is, nothing Trump is saying is really that unusual; it’s all been said repeatedly by Republicans for years; it is Republican orthodoxy.

After posting that, I went offline for a few hours and watched a movie or something; I don’t really remember every detail of my downtime, to be honest. All I remember is that I went back online later, to find that I had posted that article and my comments on my page, instead of the blog’s page. Now, most of the time when that happens, I notice it relatively quickly and I end up moving it or deleting it before someone  comments, but this time a few people had “liked” it and one person had commented. The comment was insipid and indisputably right wing.

PlatoNow, I have known this guy since we were small children; he may be the first right winger I ever knew; we met when we were about 10 and he was singing the praises of George Wallace, who was running for president as a segregationist at the time. Again, we were ten. Keep in mind, in my neighborhood, most people were union Democrats at the time; when Bobby Kennedy’s funeral train went through the neighborhood months earlier, it was met by throngs of people, who had placed coins on the tracks for a souvenir. In other words, this guy stood out like a sore thumb, as the saying goes.

We were friends through most of my childhood, but we lost touch with each other for many years, He says he graduated from the same high school as me, but it wasn’t with my graduating class, I know that for a fact, so who knows? In any case, I didn’t see him again until I started working at a law firm in Baltimore and he just happened to be working there, in a support position. We struck up a casual friendship again, but I realized that his politics hadn’t changed much over the years. I avoided talking politics with him, not because we disagreed so much, but because his argument style is still about the same as it was when we were ten. In other words, he was a typical right winger. We lost touch again when I started working in Washington, DC, but a year or two ago, he apparently discovered Facebook and added me. Reluctantly, I added him. And I have deleted more than a few of his comments. There have been times he’s actually initiated a political discussion with me when I commented on something else, and I just delete his comments and move on with life.

This time, he decided to rant about how great Trump was, followed by a string of jingoistic right-wing platitudes and a declaration that people like me are ruining the country. The entire thing was personal; it was as if I’m in a position to ruin the country all by myself. As if.

Needless to say, I deleted the comment and then deleted the post. But rather than do so quietly, I decided to call out anyone who offers a childish response to anything someone posts in an attempt to discuss it. I’m sick of the infantilization of American discourse. It’s time we all just took a deep breath and thought a little more about what we say, either in public or in private.  This type of rhetoric is creating nothing more than noise and it’s completely useless. Our discourse sounds more like a schoolyard brawl than anything designed to produce a cogent discussion and the result is largely nothing more than feedback.

Then, yesterday, I posted the following Tweet made by Donald Trump and made fun of it because… well, read it and it should be obvious why I would make fun of someone running to be the Commander in chief not knowing second grade geography, right?

Paris is in Germany

This one, I posted there on purpose because, well, it’s funny that someone leading the GOP race would think Paris was in Germany. Well, another of my friends apparently took offense, and she decided to claim that Trump gandhiwas “better than the POS in the White House now.” I’m actually paraphrasing that, because I deleted the comment as soon as she saw it and posted that I was sick of offhand comments about the President based on nothing more than visceral feelings. It’s time to raise the bar for discourse in this country and stop acting like the lowest common denominator. If you don’t like President Obama because of something he did, fine; I’ll listen. But if you’re going to call him a “Piece of shit,” do it amongst your ignorant friends; I won’t put up with it anymore.

I remember, about 10 years ago or so, when George W. Bush was President, a few of us were preparing to do some work in the West Wing, so we all had to undergo security clearances. A liberal friend of mine asked me what I would say if I were to run into Bush, knowing what I thought of the job he was doing, and my response was simple: I would shake his hand and call him “Mr. President” and answer anything respectfully. That’s because, even though I think he was one of the worst presidents in history, I have respect for the office and the country and I would never purposely show disrespect to anyone representing it. All I ask of anyone is that they show respect to the office and the country.

MLKAnd while I would love to claim it’s all the right wing, if we’re being honest, it’s not. The entire professional left is just as bad as the right when it comes to saying shit specifically intended to piss people off and get them to click more often. If you want to know why progressives lose, this is a major reason. Some of us present a cogent argument, but others are shouting into a megaphone full of bullshit and adding to the pile.

It’s time we all grew up and started arguing like adults. Please?

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